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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 25, 2016 12:32am-1:38am EST

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happens. > it is a great way for us to stay informed. >> there are a lot of c-span fans on the hill. >> it to make sure people outside the beltway know what is going on inside of it. >> senate republican leaders have said there will be no confirmation hearing for any supreme court nominee, from the obama administration. president obama talked about this up and put vacancy and the confirmation process. this is 10 minutes. >> that they are not planning to hold hearings whatsoever. president obama: the constitution says that i nominate candidates for the supreme court when there is a vacancy.
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and the senate exercises its constitutional role. i will do my job. we are going to go to a process as we have done in previous vacancies to identify an outstanding candidate that has impeccable legal credentials and would bring the kind of ability and compassion and objectivity and legal reasoning to the court that the highest court in the land demands. once i have made a nomination, leader mcconnell and all members of the senate will make a decision about how they fulfill their constitutional responsibilities. i recognize the politics are hard for them. the easier thing to do is to give in to the most extreme
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voices in their party and stamp and do nothing. but that is not our job. our job is to fulfill constitutional duties. my hope and expectation is that once this is no longer an abstract deal, those on the judiciary committee recognize that their job is to give this person -- show them the courtesy of meeting with them. they are free to vote. the american people will have the ability to gauge whether the person i have nominated is well within the mainstream. is somebody worthy to sit on the supreme court. i think it will be very difficult for mr. mcconnell to explain that if the public concludes this person is
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well-qualified, that the senate should stand in the way for political reasons. we'll see what happens. i think the situation may evolve over time. i don't expect mitch mcconnell to say that is the case today. i don't expect any member of the republican caucus to say that at the moment. let's see how the public responds to a nominee that we put forward. one thing i think is important to dispel, any notion that this is some well-established tradition, or some constitutional principle that a president in his last year of office cannot fill a supreme court vacancy. that is not in the text of the constitution.
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ironically, a lot of republicans say they believe in reading the text of the constitution and focusing on the intent. they thought when it comes to the president carrying out his duties, and should do it for three years and on the last year stop doing it? there is an argument that, well, the president should not do this because he is a lame-duck. traditionally, the truth is that it refers to the two were three months after an election is taken place in which a new president is about to be sworn in. i've got a year to go. i don't think they would approve of me abdicating on my duties as commander-in-chief, and stop doing all the other work that i've got to do. this is part of my job.
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they have been arguments that for 80 years, this is been the tradition. that's not the case. justice kennedy was approved after being nominated by ronald reagan in ronald reagan's last year of office. they say that's different because he had been nominated in 1987 even if he was confirmed. or 85 even if he was confirmed and 86. is there a two-month area where everything shuts down? that's not a good argument. what other arguments are they making? they suggest that there have been a couple of times were democrats said it would be wise for a president not to nominate someone. we know senators say stuff all the time. second, these were comments made when there was no actual
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nomination at stake. it has no application to the actual situation we have right now. i am trying to think of the other things they are grasping to is not carrying out their duties. i recognize that this is an important issue for their constituencies. it's particularly sensitive because this was justice scalia's seat that is now vacant. a whole host of decisions could turn on this ninth justice.
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but that is how our democracy is supposed to work. the last point i will make. we have already seen a breakdown of the judicial appointment process that gets worse each and every year. it becomes harder and harder to get any candidates for the judiciary confirmed. we saw senator reid have to employ the nuclear option. it was a logjam getting judicial appointments through. if, in fact, the republicans in the senate take a posture that defies -- the constitution defies logic is not supported by tradition simply because of politics, then invariably what
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you will see is a further deterioration in the ability of any president to make judicial appointments. and appointments to the supreme court as well as the federal bench become a complete extension of polarizing politics. more and more vacancies and the court systems breakdown. the credibility of the court itself diminishes because it is viewed simply as an extension of our politics. this is a republican judge or a democratic judge. as opposed to a supreme court justice that is supposed to be standing above the politics taking place. i understand the posture they are taking. i get the politics.
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i'm sure they are under enormous pressure from their base and constituencies around this issue. i've talked to many of them and i've told them i am sympathetic. by the way, there is not a lot of vigor in the position. they are pretty sheepish about it when they make those comments. so we will see how it plays itself out. i will do my job and let the american people decide if they are qualified. then they can decide if there is enough time for the u.s. senate to hold hearings and have a vote. it is not as if, from what i see, the senate calendar is so full that we don't have time to get this done. >> members of the senate talked about the supreme court nomination process and the
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announcement there be no hearings to consider president obama's nominee. this begins with minority leader harry reid. ority leader harry reid. >> the senior center from iowa with republicans on the senate judiciary committee announced they won't be holding a hearing for president obama's additional nominee to the supreme court. they won't give the nominee the common courtesy of even a meeting. no hearings. no meeting. and this is before the president is even submitted. this is unbelievable and historically unprecedented. decided they had won't give the confirmation process even a start.
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because a person is nominated by president obama. remember, republican leaders said many years ago the number one goal we had was to make sure president obama was not reelected. it failed miserably. he won by nearly 5 million votes. torything has been done , filibuster, anything that can be done to focus attention on president obama. but senator grassley has to a narrowpretense partisan mission of gridlock. so partisan that the senior senator of iowa won't respond to a personal invitation to invite
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him to the white house to discuss the vacancy. think about that. he doesn't even respond to the president. of thesad day from one proudest committees in the united states senate. the strength of the committee chairman in the united states senate have been legendary. majority, minority leader. it was off-balance.
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abdicating his responsibility. they have refused to do anything, even meet with the person that has nominated them. and the senate itself as an institution. they reported that the denial of committee hearings is unprecedented. about the fact he wanted to meet with the person that was nominated? that a memberfact of the u.s. senate won't even go to the white house to talk to the president about filling the
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supreme court seat? chairman --diciary it is quite an achievement. but it should not make you very proud. it's not what iowa wants. fewer than six iowa newspapers issued scathing editorials calling on senator grassley to change course and get a supreme court nominee the respect he or she deserves. we were especially disappointed joined thek grassley partisan crowd calling for the delay. a flagrant, outrageous, shameful, and boldfaced partisanship. quote --ids, and i
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anything but political maneuvering. is that the legacy the chairman wants? he will be remembered as the most obstructive chairman in history. generally, as a member and chairman of that committee. committeehe judiciary
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and circuit court nominations. president george h.w. bush. in 2015, the first year as chairman with the senate confirming 11 judicial nominations. it was the fewest confirmed ever. it might be a little bit much. certainly in the last 50 to 75 years. it gets worse than that, my friend. the entire 102nd congress with joe biden as chair, they confirmed 120 nominees.
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11 under chairman grassley. focusing on the actions and results. joe biden honored his constitutional obligation by considering, confirming, and visiting with nominees in a timely fashion even though they were the republican presidential nominees. i can't say the same of the committee today. as chairman, joe biden did his constitutional duty to the supreme court. , it was the last year of reagan. justice souter and thomas.
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let's focus on thomas a little bit. thomas got 52 votes and squeaked through the senate. have forcedor could a cloture vote. we didn't do that. now a controversial person -- we have seen along hearing and a long debate in the senate. it was voted down. other nominees have been voted down. but we didn't say we are not gold -- going to hold a hearing. would bypassy we the committee's actions and leave it at that. he was turned down by an overwhelming margin. but in spite of that, we brought
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it to the city floor. he was defeated in the committee. they will meet with the nominee. the chairman of the committee won't even go to the white house. as chairman, senator biden did his constitutional duty even though they were republican nominations. and on chairman grassley's watch, just in the last year. there aren't enough judges. too many cases for him to do work.
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is an emergency as it should be. a year later, the numbers triple to 31. by nearly every metric, chairman grassley is failing. the senator from iowa. don't continue down this path. reject this record-setting obstruction and simply do your job. >> every member of the senate stands in the will of the senate when they are elected and takes a note of office. the yield of office required by the constitution is our
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statement to not only the people we represent, but to the nation that we will uphold and defend the constitution of the united states. those powers include the president's power to fill vacancies. it is not permissive language. thisord "shall" is in paragraph. appointminate and shall judges to the supreme court. for the first time in the history of the united dates of america, the senate republicans are prepared to defy this clear statement of the united states constitution. what an irony that filling the vacancy on the court by the
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untimely death of antonin scalia , the vacancy of a man who prided himself throughout his judicial career of being what he termed an originalist. sticking to the strict letter of the law. vacancy, senate republicans have decided to reach a new low. in fact, to make history in a very sad way. a seat on the u.s. supreme court lies vacant because of the death of justice scalia. senate republicans are now saying they won't even hold a .earing vacancy, they will not schedule a vote.
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senator mcconnell said i will not even meet with that person. this is a new low. they started holding hearings on supreme court nominees a century ago. the senate of the united states denied aa has never hearing defending supreme court nominees. it has never happened. is what senate republicans are saying what they will do. ,his level of obstruction ignoring the clear language of is constitution unprecedented and dangerous. it goes beyond any single vote. abdication of the senate kos responsibility to provide advice and consent on supreme court nominations that the president shall appoint. it shall nominate.
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keeping them vacant for more than one year. they want this vacancy to continue for more than one year. it will encompass two terms of the supreme court. in the coming days, the president will name a nominee as the constitution requires. senate republicans should meet their responsibility. senate republicans should do their job. give the nominee a fair hearing and a vote. membersy, republican sent a letter to the majority leader. willsaid, "this committee not hold hearings of any supreme court nominee until after our next president is sworn in on january 20, 2017." unusualthey take this
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position in defiance of the constitution? >> the presidential election is well underway. americans have begun casting votes. they can decide and concrete way court should go. ,hey voted to elect a president barack obama, and 100 senators in this body. a four-yeared to term and 11 months remain. the american people voted for each of us to do our jobs for his long as we serve in office. the american people have chosen a president. not for three years, for three years and two months.
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they elected a president for four years and this president's term continues until january 20, 2017. the republicans conveniently ignore the obvious. the well of -- the will of the american people was expressed in empowerstion and it him, under the constitution, to fill this appointment. to fill this vacancy with an appointment. they do not elect us to sit on our hands for over a year while the supreme court twist in the wind and republican senators pray every night that president donald trump will somehow give america a different supreme court nominee. and not a single american, incidentally, has cast a vote for president of the united states. one despite the letter that says otherwise.
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the nomination conventions are scheduled for late july. the modern confirmation process has taken an average of 67 days. there is more than adequate time to hold a hearing on this nominee and get this done properly. all we need is for senate republicans to do their job. i urge my republican colleagues to not duck a vote on the president's nominee. they can vote yes, they can vote no. abdicateshouldn't their constitutional responsibility for a political advantage. i'm amazed at my republican colleagues. and they are afraid to even meet with this nominee. they may think it is a good nominee. the republican leader and seven members said yesterday that they will not even meet with the president's nominee.
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directly if the president nominates someone from your state to the supreme court vacancy, are you saying you would not meet with that person? my colleague ducked the question. by president is obligated article two, section two, to send a nominee to the senate. that is what the founding fathers established. that is the president's responsibility. how is that being faithful in terms of the constitution. how are they upholding and defending this constitution by this evasive, historically unprecedented action. they have calculated that it is in their political best interest to keep the nominee out of the spotlight.
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that by saying yesterday, they will have nothing to do with it, they will turn out the lights on this issue. this issue is going to be there and it is going to be recalled to the floor of the senate repeatedly. they thought they could close down the government when senator cruz sat here for i don't know how many hours reading dr. seuss while we shot down the government? and they thought people would forget? they didn't. the american people are not going to forget what republicans are trying to do. votes statetion clearly that this senator is more than happy to meet with the president's supreme court nominee.
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i will consider that nominee on merits as i have always tried to do in the past. senate republicans try to reflect attention by pointing to quotes from democrats years ago. the record is clear. democrats have never blocked a supreme court nominee from having a hearing. republicans are breaking new ground with this obstructionism. there is no excuse for the senate to fail to do its job. once the president has named his nominee, the senate must give a fair hearing and a timely vote. they understand what they are doing is unprecedented and has never happened in american history. we are finding the obstructionism reaching a new low. they are ignoring the clear wording of our constitution
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which they have sworn to uphold and defend. that is the reality. the reality that will not be lost on the american people. >> it is my privilege to say a few words honoring antonin scalia a. and a man whose intellect and wit has served our country for decades. i'm glad others have said appropriate words honoring his memory. and the many ways he has helped strengthen our constitutional self-government and our democracy. as we know, the constitution gives the senate an equal role in deciding who is to serve on the supreme court of the united states. president obama called me
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saying he intends to exercise his constitutional authority. and i recognize his right to make that nomination. since 1932 has the united states senate and a presidential election year confirmed a supreme court nominee to a vacancy that arose in that presidential election year. it is necessary to go even further back. i believe it was grover cleveland in 1888 to find an election year that was nominated and confirmed under divided government. it very curious that some of our colleagues across if you their criticism to withhold consent until we have a new president and say this ought to be a choice not confined to the senate and the president, but to the american people.
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that the member of a party or , this is about the people having a chance to express their views and raising the stakes. this will likely be the next 30 years. i want to remind some of our colleagues of the things they have said in the past for which they have so roundly criticized us. people understand when there is differences of opinion but it's a little harder to understand hypocrisy when you have taken just the opposite position when
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it suited your purposes in the past to the position you take today. let me just be charitable and say maybe they've just forgotten. the minority leader, senator reid. this is what senator reid of nevada, the democratic leader may 19, 2005. senate are sethe forth in the constitution. nowhere in that document does it give the appointee a vote. i agree with you. it is not the position he appears to be taking today. right todent has every
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nominate someone but the senate has the authority to grant consent or to withhold consent. members haveher is that weday believe unanimously, all the should withhold consent. i've read some of the press clips. horror butil in mock you are not even going to have a hearing. it's not about the personality. it would be pretty misleading
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for us to take the same position that senator reid has taken. we will go through this elaborate dance of having courtesy meetings and maybe having a hearing where we have he technologyd .he right of the senate who theto preordained next nominee will be. don't know what the outcome of the presidential election is going to be. important foro the congress and for the senate to be stampeded and rubberstamp a selection on the supreme court if he is heading out the door. a decision which could well have .n impact
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i'm not through with my charts. senator schumer -- i guess you could call it the read standard but we call it the reader rule. this is 18 months before he left office. this is 18 months. 10 months or 11 months. in 2007, wemer said should reverse the presumption of confirmation. i don't know what he's talking about. it's pretty clear to me he wants a presumption that the nominee
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will not be confirmed for the next 18 months. that we should not confirm a supreme court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances. it would be convenient and serving the purposes way back when. it is pretty clear that the senate is .
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reader rule, the schumer standard, and the biden benchmark. he was chairman of the senate judiciary committee. he gave a long speech in which this is an exerpt. the senate judiciary committee should consider not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the campaign season. it should be put off until after the election campaign is over. that's the biden benchmark. i read a statement from the vice afterent that he issued he saw this old news clip.
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this is not an accurate view, not an accurate description of my views on the subject. think the words are pretty clear. what he might've said is that these are no longer my views on the subject because he would like president obama to be able to make that nomination. i want to reject this myth. that many of our democratic thatagues are spreading what we're doing here and now is somehow unprecedented. what we're are doing is what the democrats top leadership has abdicated in the past. who do they think we are? that we are going to abide by a different set of rules? how ridiculous would that be.
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i could not explain that to my constituents back home. the democrats can apply one set of rules, but republicans must apply a different set of rules? burned byok has been the democrats. and what we are operating under is the status quo that they advocated back in 1992, 2005, and 2007. they have every right under the constitution not to have a hearing. and we shouldn't go through some motions pretending like we are when this is really about the personality of whoever the president nominates. the presidentnce will nominate someone he thinks is qualified to be on the supreme court. i would point out that this
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nominee will not be confirmed. and i don't know many leading lawyers, scholars, and judges who want to be nominated for the to ad states supreme court seat president obama will never fill. so during this already very heated election-year. and the election is already underway. democrats are voting in primaries, republicans are voting in primaries. functionme court can in the vast majority of cases with eight members and it frequently does anyway. decided 5-4.e not most cases are decided on a consensus basis. let's say for the six or so cases in which justice scalia was the deciding vote last year,
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if there is a deadlock, those cases can simply be held over until there is a new justice. or the court can come up with some other way to dispose of it as it sees fit. it frequently happens when was solicitor general and was recused and could not sit on cases she handled as an advocate for the u.s. government. the court operated with eight justices because of justice kagan's recusal. similarly, when justice kennedy served on the ninth circuit court of appeals. this is not extraordinary.
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this is not uncommon. going to paralyze the supreme court of the united states from doing its job. tohas all the tools it needs handle these cases to dismiss hold them over if they truly are deadlocked. or to find some other more narrow basis on which to survive the case. eight members of the court. i would like our colleagues to come here and explain this of thet contradiction position they took. if they can't explain that.
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like i said, people may not understand a lot of the nitty-gritty details, but they have a strong sense of fairness and evenhandedness. -- smellyll hypocrisy. >> i'm coming forward with what i think is a pretty simple message that the american people have been delivering to me. a message that reflects exactly why wanted to come to washington dc. congress needs to do its job. legislating, making sure we're holding up properly, taking votes that make some of us uncomfortable here. that's our job. say,coming here today to
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congress, do your job. senate, do your job. families across this country fulfill responsibilities. they do food on the table for their families and they pay their bills. a construction worker telling his boss he does not want to do his job for the rest of the year until conditions are probably more favorable. he might get a good laugh and be told to go back to work. if he was serious, he wouldn't have a job very long. everyone here knows american workers can go to their jobs in just announce, i don't want to do that today. say i'm not going to do my job today for the rest of the year. who willit to find out be the new boss. i think, in many ways, it's an embarrassment that some of my colleagues would not only ask the president not to do his job that our constitution instruct
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him to do but shirk their own duties to provide a device and consent simply because it is not a good political time to do it. that is something terrible the senate is making determinations about how a popularly elected president, regardless of political party, regardless of whether that president is popular in the chamber or not is no longer allowed to perform the duties of that office. receive a vote on the supreme court nominee of his choosing. don't even bother. it's particularly frustrating for those of us that want the senate to work. that some are willing to hamper
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the functioning of yet another branch of our federal government. simply to play politics, that they will benefit one party and have to maintain control of the other two branches of government. i don't think anyone can dispute the facts. american people deserve a fully functioning court. without a full slate of an abdication of our responsibility of the united states senators. that responsibility is to make sure that america has a fully functioning three branches of government. to hear they won't even entertain the thought of a hearing to the judiciary committee for any nominees the president put forward. i don't know how you can explain that decision or how you can say
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for the next 10 months it doesn't matter. i don't know how to explain that to people back in north dakota. action on has taken every pending supreme court --inee, record was regardless of the election-year. since 1975, the average number days from 67 nomination to confirmation. since committee hearings began in 1916, every pending nominee has received a hearing except nine that were all confirmed within 11 days. in addition to holding hearings on the nomination, they have a long-standing bipartisan tradition of sending all pending nominees to the supreme court
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for a supreme court vacancy when the committee may not have supported that nominee. , if thesupreme court vacancy is held open until the next president makes the nomination, it means it is vacant for well over a year. not since the civil war. not since the civil war has it taken longer than a year. only eight members of the supreme court sitting would delay or prevent justice from being served. decisions from the court on various varieties of issues. denying access one way or the
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other. denying them access to that final appeal. denying access to that supreme court decision. let's do our job. but given nominee at hearing and vote in committee. this.not prejudge let's do the responsible thing. let's take a look at the fulling functioning supreme court. the last time that we went through a very contentious hearing was the hearing for justice thomas. my colleague from washington on the floor will remember that as do a lot of people here. i want to remark that justice thomas was sent to this floor
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-- and his nomination at the urging of the majority leader mitchell. it was not filibustered. it is probably the most contentious nominee in my lifetime. let's do our job. so that every person who advocates it for the supreme is given access to justice. >> there is no question that the supreme court has lost a strong
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and thoughtful voice. whereis also no question the court might have disagreed on issues. justice scalia a unique capacity to get beyond that. .t will be missed by the court he was an associate judge for almost 30 years. he was a true constitutional scholar both in his work before the court and on the court and aally brought to the court lifetime of understanding the law. he began his legal career in 1961 practicing in private practice. 1960 seven, became part of the faculty of the university of virginia school of law in 1972. he joined the nixon administration's general counsel for the office of
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telecommunications policy. from that place, he was appointed an assistant attorney general. greek capacity to his with the university of chicago. point he became a judge. a court that gets many cases that wind up on the supreme court. and a little more than four years on that court, president reagan nominated him to serve as an associate justice. was not a wavering defender of the constitution. as perhaps no one had a long time. a sense of what the constitution
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was all about and a sense of what the constitution meant. and by that, he meant, what the constitution meant to the people that wrote it. there was a way to change the constitution of the country and congress think it is outmoded in the way it would have been looked at by the people that wrote it. there is a process to do something about it. it was immediately used when the bill of rights was added to the constitution and could still be used if people think the constitution no longer means what the people who wrote it and the people who voted to approve it thought it means. justice scalia sometimes argued against where his personal view might have been. arguing for what the constitution meant and what it was intended to mean. opinions were well reasoned. they were logical. they were eloquent.
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they were often laced with both humor and a little sarcasm. they were grounded in the idea that judges interpret the constitution the way it was written. law left a profound mark on the legal professions. you have young lawyers in many cases talking about the law beforently than they did justice scalia began to argue his view of what the constitution meant and what the court meant. he was a great legal mind. he was funded the with. i will miss the opportunities we had. books may be the other should read or books the other should avoid reading but he had a broad sense of wanting to challenge his own views. and being willing to challenge other people's views but do that in a positive way that he theght advanced
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constitution and what the constitution meant to the country. as i stand here today, i'm sure ,any people all over america people the scalia family came into contact with -- we continue to remember his family. thoughts and prayers with his wife maureen. their nine children. dozens of grandchildren. it's big enough that it's an impressive number. people had a chance to be there his sons eloquent handling of the funeral service and the eulogy. legacy.reat it clearly shows that he and maureen scalia are leaving it to the country.
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i'm not a lawyer which is often the most popular thing i say. i don't want to pretend to be a lawyer here. but you really don't need to be a brilliant lawyer to understand the constitution or understand what judge scalia was going to be. a history teacher, someone that had a chance to be the university president. the first person to graduate from college. constitution -- there is no magic in the number of how many judges are sitting on the court at any given time. the constitution doesn't even suggest what the number should be. and it has been different numbers over time. number for some years has been nine. but there have often not been nine judges sitting.
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when nine are sitting because of , of other reasons when judges leave, judges retire, they resigned to do something else. they have often been eight judges. a court that easily could wind tie. a 4-4 i think 15 time since world war ii, the court has only had eight after world war ii. harry truman used the desk before me. a month after he became president, he asked judge jackson to be the chief prosecutor so, justice jackson went to nurnberg and, for the better he was the years,
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chop -- the chief prosecutor at the trials. tied court can do a lot of things and, what we should really do is decide to rehear a case. you can be tied with nine judges and one decides they cannot participate in the case. when that happens, the court does a number of things and this is important. next in the shadow of the nine months we are away from people getting a chance to vote and lifetime appointment on the court is important. served for a quarter
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this is something worth thinking about and, frankly, at this moment and others that have occurred, it theoften been the case that american people ought to have a say as to who sits in the supreme court seat and that will happen and i think it is the best thing to happen this time with a lot at stake. on secondourt does amendment matters, on first amendment matters, those freedoms added to the constitution, the freedom of religion, no other country was ever founded on the principle that the right to pursue your
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conscience and faith is a ent of theten whennment and it was added it was decided the constitution was not clear enough about the fundamental principles. administration is suing the little sisters of the poor, because they do not want a health care plan to include things different than the faith beliefs and freedom of religion is really important and it is a case before the court right now and i know there is a reason we should be concerned about the freedom of religion and the .ight of conscience
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jefferson said, in a letter to a church while he was president, i think it may have been late in his administration and he said conscience is of one we should hold dear and the american people need to think about this as they determine more than one vacancy during their time in office and mrs. notton says that she will appoint anybody who will not reverse freedom of speech cases in citizens united and it sounds like candidates are willing to make this an issue and the voters should have a right to. freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the second amendment and
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that0th amendment, saying things should be left to the states. as president, the closer you are to wear a problem is, the more likely you are to get a commonsense solution and that is andthe amendment is there needs to be vigorously adhered to. and, are important times at a there is an election, there is a sense this may be the most important election and, they all are. the principles of government with executive overreach and regulators who are unaccountable and out of control, the big concerns of america today. it is important to be thinking about the supreme court and the
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responsibility of citizens and the next president of the united states. this president has every constitutional right and obligation to nominate someone to a vacancy on the supreme court and there is a second obligation of the senate to confirm that nomination and the senate has a view that the noter to the question is right now because we are too close to a big decision on the future of the country to not that andhis process in i wish the process of democracy well and the american people well, as we

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